Writer, Church leader, Eccentric Nut, Marketer

I'm Church Leader, Writer, Speaker, Marketer, Kindness Project Founder, Broadcaster and Superhero. But most important I'm a Husband, Father and a worshiper of Jesus.

30 October 2010

I'm Dave and I'm a Christian who takes his kids out for Halloween

Here's Freedom House's Halloween policy. "Vote your conscience". What that means is that Halloween is the ultimate Romans 14 scenario. Read this... it's powerful:

Don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. But since both are guests at Christ's table, wouldn't it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn't eat? Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience. What's important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God's sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you're a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters.
(paraphrased v 1-9)

What we won't do is ignore Halloween, because every day is a chance to change your community, life, and world BY good INTO good regardless of our individual opinions on a gray area. We all have the Biblical mandate to not "insist on our own way". Who in the world wants to be in a real family that holds things against each other? We've got enough of that crap to deal with already!

So how in the world can you celebrate Halloween for God's sake?

I've run the Halloween gambit. I've done church gym harvest parties. I've done carefree trick or treating. I've done trick or treating with a pile of guilt layed on me. I've shut off my lights and pretended like I'm not home. I've had my heart broken for the debauchery of a city. I've handed out candy at my church. You might have a slightly different view on Halloween than me. But that's great! Go hard! But the last 3 years, here's how I've dealt with Halloween...

I got tired of being ostracized from society because of my belief in Jesus. There ARE areas that do not reconcile with society... and non participation works. But there are a HEAP of other areas where it's religious tradition based on shaky reasoning that in no way has a bearing on a relationship with Jesus. And some of these things have separated Christians from being a light in the very world God put us here to inspired on to "love and good deeds." And I'm done with that. The years of shutting my lights off and scolding others for dressing their daughter as a princess are over. For too many years, we were "that house". If you were a trick or treater you knew "that house". The lights were off and you talked to your buddies about how they sucked. I'm quite sure that little boys don't care much about our reasoning behind the silent protest. They just know that you're too damn good to participate in their world.

Are these families with a 2, 4, and 7 year old dressed as the Muppets out just desperately searching for some dastardly act of evil to do? Nope... they are just looking for a smile and some tiny tarts! More "community" happens on my street Halloween night than the rest of the days of the year combined. And people are HAPPY to give to each other. And for too many years... the houses of those called to "light's in the darkness" have been darkened and unwilling to go where people are. Neighborhood families have found the rare community spirit created over simple candy and warm wishes... in others homes. No more.

Last Halloween I dressed as Captain Kindness and sat on my porch talking about how kindness can revolutionize a neighborhood. It was a night that was used effectively and the neighbors KNOW why we were sharing the night without judgment. I'm done with the judging... both Christians and non-Christians over gray areas of little significance. It's a heavy divisive load that I was not designed to carry. I'm sick of intentionally ostracizing myself from conversations over pithy quibbles of "food sacrificed to idols" which is what Romans 14 is talking about.

15-16If you confuse others by making a big issue over what they eat or don't eat, you're no longer a companion with them in love, are you? These, remember, are persons for whom Christ died. Would you risk sending them to hell over an item in their diet? Don't you dare let a piece of God-blessed food become an occasion of soul-poisoning

I can't stop thinking about Pete Greig's "The Vision" where its says:

"...they laugh at 9-5 little prisons. They could eat caviar on Monday and crust on Tuesday. They wouldn't even notice... They are free yet they are slaves of the hurting and the dirty and the dying"

They are words that are transforming how I live and what I do these days. Pete's word have intrinsic power too... since it's modern poetry reflecting what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:

19-23Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn't take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn't just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!

but but but but... but...

But nothing. I'm a slave to the lost. I could give or take Halloween. It's a "who cares" thing to me. It's of neutral value except it's become a night where my kids and I get to have fun together while helping to create the culture of how our neighborhood will be. Don't kid yourself... you SHAPE your neighborhood's culture. A city is what you make it.

I don't buy the "you're openning your kids up to demons" argument anymore either. I find it to be an immature view on the demonic (that DOES exist). In Ghana back in 2000, we came across a full fledged voodoo priest initiation ceremony, complete with blood sacrifices, idol worship, satanic trances... the whole bit. Albert (our friend) stopped the car and said, "would you like to go see that?". We were stunned. Shouldn't we flee even the appearance of evil? He said... "Nah... if you don't have any unrepented-for sin in your life, you're covered by the blood of Jesus. He who is in you is more powerful than he who is in the world. You're good."

We are not only conquerors, we are SUPER conquerors. Is there more demonic activity on Halloween? Maybe. VERY debatable though. Even if there is... you're stronger as a Christian and you're called to overcome that darkness. The strongest demonic attack in North American... is the spirit of apathy and fear. And the church LOVES that stronghold every day of the year. Guess what... Jesus wins.

This year, if you're called to pray... we are running a 24/7 Prayer room that you can sign up for an hour by following the links here. My friend Katie is running a great cause called "Trick or Eat" where they are gathering food for the Brantford food bank (linked here). If you're not doing Halloween... that's amazing! Bless you in your choice! Seriously! But don't hide. Do SOMETHING to change your life, family, city BY good INTO good!

And you know why we don't get to hold grey areas over each other? Because 3 years ago... I thought quite differently on the subject. I quietly judged of some of my closest friends on their liberty. It was wrong. I hated the feeling and I don't planning on resuming it... ever. It's IMPERATIVE that we know WHY we're doing what we're doing without being reckless and stupid... and maybe that's where the judgment comes from. Our assumptions that others don't THINK... because they don't think like us.

Maybe next year we'll hang out with our other close friends who we LOVE and who think the exact opposite as us and have a home wing ding. Why? Because I don't want my kids growing up CARING about Halloween. I want them growing up caring about not caring about things that mean NOTHING ... and intentionally living free as slaves to truth.

Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you'll kill two birds with one stone: pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you.
Romans 14:18


D J Futers said...

That's good teaching!

Dave Carrol said...

Thank you Jeff. It took a lot of years to really find what we felt comfortable doing with Halloween but what the church can't do is ignore it.... because people are sitting there judging and condemning each other over "food sacrificed to idols" ... and that ain't no good.

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